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Lifehacker: The Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, and Better, Third Edition by Gina Trapani, Adam Pash

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Hack 11: Organize Your Documents Folder

Level Easy

Platforms All

Cost Free

Every operating system comes with a default location to save user documents. If you’ve had a computer for any length of time, you know that your computer’s My Documents folder can get disorganized quickly. If you frequently find yourself letting files clutter your computer’s desktop, or if you spend time rearranging files in a bunch of unmanageable subfolders, it’s time for a revamp. You can create a simple set of folders to accommodate every type of file in an accessible way that keeps the files you need to work with right at your fingertips.

The Big Six

Over the years, I’ve developed a six-folder structure for Documents that I create on every computer I use without fail. This scheme accommodates every file you will accumulate, clears the desktop, smoothly fits in with an automated backup system (see Hack 60, “Set Up an Automated, Bulletproof File Back-Up Solution”), and makes command-line file wrangling a breeze.

In alphabetical order, the six main folders are called bak, docs, docs-archive, junkdrawer, media, and scripts, as shown in Figure 2-1.

Figure 2-1: The six core folders of a My Documents organization system.

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Here’s a quick rundown of what each does and what it might contain:

  • bak — Short for backup, this is your backup destination of first resort. Your actual data backups should reside on external ...

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